Women

Caroline Righton decides the best way to stay on-trend is to tune into her style-savvy friends

There aren’t many challenges I give up on. However, this year I have decided to pack in trying to get it right in the fashion stakes after my friends warned me I was in danger of becoming a poster girl for What Not To Wear. I’ve thrown the pashmina in on the daily wardrobe forage for something in this season’s colour or the “so in” bling ring or bangle. I don’t know what I ever did to fashion editors, but I concede defeat. They win and if it wasn’t or those same honest friends, I really would be a very cross dressed woman indeed, knowing I’m getting my look wrong and not knowing why.

Description: I was in danger of becoming a poster girl for What Not To Wear

I was in danger of becoming a poster girl for What Not To Wear

The sudden revelation that fashion had me beat came as I leafed through the latest clothing catalogues and realise the How To Dress rule book had been thrown away by those in the know. Without giving any new guidelines, they’d turned everything on its head about what is and what isn’t in vogue.

As I peered into my wardrobe, all those safety nets that had hitherto steered me from ever being seen in blue and green, from wearing spots and stripes together or having different coloured buttons on the same cardie had become benchmarks for being on-trend. I even read in a national newspaper that it is now naff to have matching toe and fingernail varnish! When did that happen? Nobody told me! Which is exactly where the problem lies. I clearly don’t have a “fashionista” gene in me – at all. I just don’t pick upon the winds of change blowing through the dress rails.

Of course, over the years, I have gamely had a go at getting it right because I knew I should. But, truth be told, I’ve always suspected I’m slightly off-message as people have commented on outfits when I have made an effort as though they are curiosities. “Where did you get that?” or “I admire the way you really do have your own style.” I know these were not meant in malice and were in fact kindly reassurances that I’m loved despite my fashion failures.

With fashion now being more free-range, I’m left adrift. Luckily though, I do have friends who are on the button, mismatched or otherwise, about what to wear and after their kindly intervention, I decided to rope them in to save the day.

Description: Best of the upcoming fashionista's designs

Best of the upcoming fashionista's designs

I think women are very generous about sharing their random knowledge, although I have to say mine are not in much demand, such as my instinctive memory for Latin vocabulary learned at school. However, I am blessed with a comprehensive collection of wise advisers, mentors and lovely shoulders to cry on for every aspect of my life.

So I have resolved to apply the same concept to my wardrobe dilemmas and appoint my own personal fashion police. Charlotte - my own personal fashion police. Charlotte will become Head of Shoes – she wears lovely eclectic flats most of the time and turns up in super heels when the occasion demands. Julie is great on work suits that don’t look too “try hard”, and Judith gets the whole modern hair thing with styles that are cleverly cut yet look unbrushed and sexy. Michelle has cracked how not to have anything matching in a “together” sort of way and Elaine will do for jewellery and accessories, always adding the definitive finishing touch.

With their help, I know I won’t disgrace the fashion runway of everyday life. They are viewing me as a project and, bless them, are trying to educate me about the choices they make.

But, it is as if they speak in tongues. I can’t even “visit” Planet Fashion let alone learn the language and I’m just thankful I’m not committing a crime of fashion as I step out. Because, as we all know, ignorance of the law is just no Defence. Or ignorantia juris non excusat, as I happily accept.

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